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Sabres Central

Hasek wins first "Battle of the Goalies"
By Rick Anderson
October 13, 2001

Hollywood couldn't have come up with a better script. Here was "The Dominator" going up against his former team one week into the new season. Wearing his new threads, Dominik Hasek showed his former teammates just what they don't have anymore, a 6-time Vezina Trophy winner. Hasek was his usual brilliant self as he made 29 saves as he helped his new team, the Detroit Red Wings, scuttle the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 before a raucous crowd of 20,058 in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. Friday night. It was his first home win for Detroit.

In a cloud of ice, Dominik Hasek makes backwards sprawling save on the player the Buffalo Sabres got for Hasek, Slava Kozlov. It was the key moment in the game at that point. Hasek won his first home game as a Red Wing.
[(AP Photo/Paul Warner]

It was Hasek's first win in Detroit since coming over in a trade with the Sabres for forward Slava Kozlov this summer. Detroit and Hasek were the obvious winners in that trade after round one. Hasek stopped Kozlov cold in his tracks in the first period when Kozlov came in alone on Hasek and the sliding goalie blocked it with his body. Kozlov was stopped on his only other shot on the Dominator.

The Big Battle of the Goalies was won by Hasek over his former study, Martin Biron. Biron made some spectacular saves in the first period, but was beaten three times in the second stanza and that was the difference in the game. Biron, who is now officially the Sabres No. 1 goalie after standing in Hasek's shadow for the last 4 years, was disappointed that he could not beat his master in their fist head-to-head matchup. He made 33 saves in a losing effort - a game which was probably the biggest in his life. Now Biron will have to wait until March 10th before he gets his next shot of dethroning the "King of the Crease."

"They kept coming back," a dejected Biron said. "They have such a good team, they know they are always within striking distance. They smelled it in the second period."

"I thought Marty was fabulous," praised Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "He made a number of great saves. He was right on his game."

Other Sabres were quick to come to the defense of their young goalie.

"Dom played well, but Marty played excellent," chirped Sabres defenseman Rhett Warrener. "He kept us in the game and he made the big saves when he needed to. The goals Detroit did score were the defense's fault. The defense didn't shut them down as well as we should have."

The Sabres took the early lead in this game when Stu Barnes continued his torrid scoring pace by notching his 4th goal of the young season in the first period. With the Sabres on the powerplay, Miroslav Satan forced Hasek to his knees when he got in alone on Hasek below the right faceoff circle. Satan maneuvered around Hasek and passed off to newcomer Tim Connolly, who flipped the puck in front of the net. The puck hit a defenseman and came back out to Connolly and he took another slap shot. Barnes was Johnny-on-the-spot and tipped Connolly's shot past Hasek just two seconds after the powerplay expired. Barnes, at this rate will have 66 goals this season!

Wings forward Darren McCarty and Sabers center Erik Rasmussen have a smashing experience in Detroit as the Red Wings beat the Sabres 4-2.
[(AP Photo/Paul Warner]

Seconds after, Captain Stupendous finally came to the rescue. Connolly received his own rebound and took another slap shot, which Barnes tipped past Hasek to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead 16:50 into the first period, two seconds after the powerplay expired.

Biron looked as if he could keep the Wings at bay until early in the second period when the rook collapsed on the goalie. One of the new weapons that the Red Wing acquired in the offseason was gunner Luc Robitaille rifled a blast over Biron's shoulder and the Wings suddenly knew they could score on the Sabres new netminder.

The Wings proceeded to pellet Biron with rubber for the remainder of the period. The got off 29 shots on Biron and he stopped 16 of them. After Robitaille broke Biron's shutout bid, the Sabres came right back as if they were not going to let this game slip away from them. A little over two minutes after the Wings had tied it, Dmitri Kalinin rifled a shot off the crossbar and it came right to Satan, who slapped it top shelf for his second goal of the year.

From that point on, Hasek would reign supreme. He stopped everything the Sabres threw at him and was expecting more of a barrage, not only of pucks but crashing bodies. Neither happened as the Sabres seemed to fold in their tents and pack their "A" game away.

Brendan Shanahan tied the game up again 15:08 into the second stanza when Sergei Fedorov fed a pass to Shanahan standing in the right faceoff circle. Shanahan shot got through Biron's five-hole and Detroit had the Sabres running around. After Alexei Zhitnik took a slashing penalty, Fredrik Olausson put the Wings in the lead for the first time when he stuffed one past Biron with only 6 seconds left in the second period.

Hasek kept the Sabres off the board for the entire third period and with time running out, Ruff pulled Biron in favor of an extra attacker. That's when a linesman called the Sabres for "too-many-men-on-the-ice" and the Sabres coach went ballistic over the call. He claimed that Biron had gotten off in time and the extra attacker was the sixth skater the Sabres were called for. He protested to referee Kerry Fraser to no avail.

"We got a bogus call," quipped Ruff after the game.

With Buffalo down one skater, Ruff pulled Biron anyway and Shanahan proceeded to notch his second goal of the game into an empty net.

Hasek wins round one

Hasek was buoyant after the contest, relishing the victory over the team he had spent nine years with.

"I am glad I beat the Sabres," gleamed an obviously happy Hasek,"There will be one more chance, March, I think, for the team to beat me."

Hasek who lost his first game before his new fans in Detroit 4-2 against Calgary the other night, was given plenty of standing ovations after making several big saves against the Sabres. "It's two things," Hasek described the game. "First of all, it's my first win at home. I didn't feel well after the last game. And there was even more pressure because my former team came in, and it feels good. It was very exciting for me to play against my teammates."

When the Sabres took the lead twice, it had Hasek thinking about how tough it would be to beat his former team.

"I know my (former) teammates, and once they get up one or two goals, it's very difficult to come back," admitted Hasek. "I played there for nine years, and I know our defense - once we got a lead it wasn't easy to score goals. But we (the Wings) came back twice, and it's really something."

The day before the game, his former teammate Rob Ray issued a terse statement about Hasek.

"I think when he left, he didn't do it in the proper way," said Ray leading into the showdown between the Sabres and Hasek. "I think the proper way for Dominik should have been thanking everybody and saying it was time to move on. And move on. There was no need to come out and say the only time we had a chance to win was when he played, and, "If I go into the Hall of Fame, I'm going as a Red Wing.' There was no thank you for the players who stuck their necks out for him the last seven or eight years while he won all his awards and made all his money. Or even the fans who supported him, a lot of times when things were against him and there was no need to support him. So I think he could have done it in a much more professional way when he did leave."

There was a brief encounter between the two late in the game and Hasek said that Ray gave him a high stick in the third period.

"I stepped up like I almost wanted to fight him," Hasek said about his encounter with the Sabres tough guy, "but when I see it's Rob, I'd better let my teammates do the job"

Wings coach Scotty Bowman was seriously considering sitting Hasek and playing him in Saturday's game against the New York Islanders. He decided to let Hasek make the choice. It was an obvious one: play against his former team.

"It was a big challenge for me," Hasek talked about playing against the team where he won all his trophies. "I wouldn't feel well if I didn't play. I'm sure lots of people in Detroit and Buffalo were looking forward to watching me play my teammates, former teammates."

Oh, by the way, Hasek still keeps his old Sabres helmet that he wore all those years in Buffalo. He put black tape over the Sabres logo, but he keeps it for old times sake.

"I just have it just in case something happens with my new red helmet," joked Hasek. "I don't think I'm going to use it any more. But I'm going to keep it forever."

Maybe Hasek still has a little place left in his heart for the Sabres after all.


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